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WordPress 3.1 Beta Unleashed on WordPress.com

WordPress News has just released WordPress 3.1 Beta on more than 15 million blogs across the network.

has used WordPress.com as their proving ground since the beginning, relying upon the feedback of the many bloggers from around the world, all using different types of computer hardware, browser types, operating systems, and blog setups to test one of the most powerful publishing programs – a prime testing environment. In the beginning, there were a few bumps and bruises. Today, WordPress is tested extensively by a wide range of advanced testers and programmers and then bits of code are slowly introduced and tested on WordPress.com, leading up to the widespread testing of the beta before unleashing it on the many millions of self-hosted WordPress users.

Most of the improvements are not visible on the public face of your WordPress.com blog. They are in the Administration Panels, improving the efficiency of managing your content and writing blog posts.

Some of the exciting new features you need to check out include:

  • Internal linking
  • Post and Page column sorting
  • Post and Page pagination controls in the content management areas
  • Improved AJAX search results in posts and pages
  • Improved support for IE9

Improvements to the Admin Bar came earlier to the bar that sits at the top of your blog and Administration Panels when you are logged into WordPress.com adding new navigation features and options.

Link feature to link to intrasite posts for WordPress 3.1Personally, I am most excited about the internal linking feature on WordPress.com, finally making it easy for bloggers to link to their past posts.

Type the link text and highlight the words, then click the Links toolbar icon to activate the link options. The internal linking feature allows you to search keywords from within the post title and content to find the post to link with a single click and apply. The link is a perfectly formed HTML anchor tag with the title attribute, a big improvement from the older linking system. There is an option to add an attribute to open the link in a new tab or window. Please refrain from using that as it is deprecated and violates web standards for accessibility and really pisses off power users who want to control how their links open. I love this new feature, one I’ve requested from the beginning as I waste a LOT of time searching for past posts to include in my content and manually created related posts feature.

Unfortunately power bloggers must risk the state of their handwritten HTML and switch away from the so often ignored HTML editor to the Visual Editor to use the new feature, and the last link you created remains in the link popup, which may cause confusion as it did for me the first time, making me think I was editing the link I just created instead of making a new one. This is part of the joy of beta testing the latest version of WordPress.

What you cannot see are improvements in Theme handling and functionality as well as taxonomy issues. While the document is not complete, see WordPress Version 3.1 outlined in the , the online manual for WordPress Users.

What is not available yet on WordPress.com is the new Post Formats. The introduction of Custom Post Types brought joy to the hearts of those eager to embrace WordPress as a CMS, permitting customized Pages that worked outside of the WordPress post chronological loop, and confusion to the many who thought that “post type” meant you could create custom post templates and styles to distinguish one post “type” from other. Post Formats is the next step to bring that wish to reality, permitting 9 Tumblr-like post formats: aside, audio (podcast), chat, gallery, image, link, quote, status, and video. The incorporation of such options into WordPress.com has been long overdue and should be interesting. Post Formats open a huge door to WordPress Theme developers and designers as well.

For more on what is coming in WordPress 3.1, especially for self-hosted versions of WordPress see:

WordPress Theme and Plugin developers need to pay close attention to some of the news, improvements and feature changes and additions as some of the changes in WordPress 3.1 may influence your Themes and Plugins, making them incompatible, or better yet, giving you even more power and flexibility to make your coding dreams come true.

What Else is New on WordPress.com?

In case you haven’t been paying attention, here are some more new features available on WordPress.com, which may or may not be available to self-hosted versions of WordPress.

  • WordPress for Nokia: WordPress has been available for iPHone, BlackBerry, and Android, and now is available for Nokia users with a Nokia app.
  • Twitter Integration: Called “Twitter Blackbird Pie,” you can now display your Tweets in your blog posts simply by pasting in the URL/permalink to the tweet on a line by itself. It generates a “graphic” view of your tweet. This is also available for self-hosted WordPress blogs with the Twitter Blackbird Pie WordPress Plugin.
  • Custom CSS: Improvements in WordPress.com Themes have been going on for a while, but now many of the features permitted only in a few Themes have come to more WordPress.com Themes, including the ability to add the Custom CSS upgrade to many of the Themes without being restricted to only the Sandbox Theme.
  • Offsite redirect upgrade: A fairly new feature, Offsite Redirect is an upgrade that permits you to leave WordPress.com with a 301 redirect to your new site for a small fee.
  • WordPress.com Stats: Upgrades and improvements, long needed, to the WordPress.com stats, including replacing Flash with a new charting library system called Flot. This change permits viewing of your WordPress.com stats through mobile devices including the iPhone and iPad. These are currently still in development, so give them your feedback and input, and soon the changes will be added to the WordPress.com Stats WordPress Plugin.
  • Webhooks: Push notifications (HTTP POST), events activated when an event happens, such as a comment on a post, publishing a page or post, etc., a “script” is activated. The example they give is a cell phone text message sent each time a new comment is added to your site.
  • Gravatar Hovercards: A Gravatar new feature that hows a hover over your Gravatar featuring your profile information, Facebook, Twitter, and other social network links, and recent photographs.
  • Text Messaging: The ability to manage your blog through SMS messages from your cell phone (available only in the USA). There are free and paid options. Paid options include comment and post publishing notification, and blogging from your cell phone.
  • Email Post Changes: A great feature for multiple blogger sites on WordPress.com, as well as self-hosted WordPress blogs with the Email Post Changes WordPress Plugin, you can now be notified by email whenever a change is made to a post on your site, taking advantage of the post revisions feature.
  • Subscriptions: The addition of the Subscriptions Panel on WordPress.com, accessible from the Admin Bar. By subscribing to a blog or adding it to your Subscribe page, your WordPress.com blog also becomes a feed reader. An alert “New” notification is also featured on the Admin Bar when there are updates to the subscribed blogs. They’ve also integrated email and jabber notifications to the new panel so you can turn on and off email notifications for new posts or get posts sent directly to you through instant messenger.
  • Instant Notification of Subscriptions: As part of the move to create a more powerful feed reader within WordPress.com, making the service a “one stop” content, news, and inspiration service, the instant delivery notification feature uses Jabber to send out instant messages through Adium, iChat, Psi, Pidgin and other supported third-party clients or Jabber’s own client.
  • Social Network/Media Sharing: The ability to add a “sharing bar” to your blog posts to encourage readers to share your post with Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit, and to use their WordPress Press This feature.


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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen.

13 Comments

  1. Posted November 19, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    In principle, it all sounds wonderful.

    About Mobile and Stats, come on over and read the first two of “My Three WordPress.com Wishes”. :)

  2. Posted November 19, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Lorelle
    Wonderful write up. Thanks!

  3. Posted November 20, 2010 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    Thanks for an informative post, but I’m afraid you’re in error about the Custom CSS upgrade — it’s always been available for any theme at WordPress.com.

    • Posted November 20, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink

      @Dave Bonta: The Custom CSS Upgrade has been available for a long time, but only for the Sandbox Theme. It is now available for other Themes as well. I know because I was part of the original testing team. :D

  4. Posted November 20, 2010 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Really, really awesome features. I have plans for the post formats immediately, will save me some considerable effort for several types of articles I write.

  5. Posted November 20, 2010 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    With over 100 themes to update to accommodate them, it may take a while for post formats to be fully implemented. I also look forward to seeing what kind of conversion features will be available for those who have been using categories and shortcodes to handle things like asides and galleries.

  6. Posted November 20, 2010 at 11:13 am | Permalink

    Lorelle, I have bought the CSS upgrade for three different WordPress.com blogs and used it for at least half a dozen different themes as far back as at least 2008.

  7. Strikestar
    Posted November 20, 2010 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Thanks that give us new functions!

  8. Posted November 21, 2010 at 2:03 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the informative post. I wonder if there is a business model in the text messaging feature for non-US residents.

  9. Daniel
    Posted November 26, 2010 at 4:46 am | Permalink

    Wahou, the Internal linking function seems to be a great tools for seo purpose. Can’t wait to us it.

  10. Faizan
    Posted November 30, 2010 at 5:42 am | Permalink

    The internal linking feature seems to be the most useful. WordPress just gets better and better!

  11. Kieran Daly
    Posted February 24, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

    It is great that WP have brought such a meaty release out so soon after WP 3.0 and it has a lot of features as you outline above that will convert people and make it more accesible such as the WP menu bar which provides that easy interface that the dashboard may have scared people off in the past.

    The WP as a CMS debate will however continue to rage but I think that WP are nearly there and I suspect that we we will see a WP 3.2 pretty soon on the heels of this. I echo the concern of other themes keeping apace with this and this is the challenge with such a nice open source CMS in that it may diverge from other themes as it tries to meet the many requirements of the users out there bloggers v. CMS people.

    • Posted February 25, 2011 at 2:06 am | Permalink

      The wait for WordPress 3.1 was one of the longest in the history of WordPress development, so I have trouble agreeing with your first point. WordPress continues to get easier to use, while adding a ton of sophistication in coding under the hood, which is what keeps it interesting.


7 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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